ACL Fest 2016: Schoolboy Q gets lost in the shuffle

Outlaw rapper extraordinaire Schoolboy Q emerged guns blazing Saturday evening at the Samsung stage, donning a tie-dye hoodie, performing “Gangsta.” He’s a one-channel wrecking ball of a performer who writes twisting tales of thievery–but why did he get stuck performing his great, niche work on a giant stage that hemorrhaged patrons?

Maybe he’s due?

Schoolboy Q performs on the Samsung Stage during the Austin City Limits Music Festival on October 1, 2016. (Tamir Kalifa for American-Statesman)

Schoolboy Q performs on the Samsung Stage during the Austin City Limits Music Festival on October 1, 2016. (Tamir Kalifa for American-Statesman)

Just last year at Fun Fun Fun Fest, Q pledged to return soon with a new record after exhausting his lean-but-muscular discography. Now he has a prime-time keynote, here planting the flag in the name of Top Dawg Entertainment before its centerpiece, Kendrick Lamar, closes out. But where Lamar is a community-lifting optimist who make folks smile warmly on a Grammys telecast, Q is the jaded big bro who writes fatalist stick-up rap.

Certainly, he can make it pop. “Collard Greens” was a bouncy, tongue-twisting flash. “Break the Bank” boasts a windows-down hook that made fans yell at onlookers with urgent disdain. “Studio” flips the tempo, goes smooth and soulful, yet mostly powered the pilgrimage across Zilker Park for the many who wanted to catch the Chainsmokers.

 

As a real-life rainbow adorned the big stage, Q hemorrhaged patrons who preferred catching the 7pm bands than camping out for Lamar. Even the EDM-booming “Hell Of a Night” went off with minimal impact.

“I went to jail for smoking weed in Austin, Texas,” Q recounted, trying to relate. He’s been here a bunch–across South by Southwest day parties and Stubb’s showcases. But the gorgeously written “Blessed” is a confession we’ve heard too many times.

Ten minutes from the end, the Southern California rapper realized he had lots left on the table in terms of hits he hadn’t yet performed.

“Since I can’t do all those f*****g songs, what do you want to hear?” Q asked.

He went into 2014 hit “Man of the Year,” then cocaine love letter “Yay Yay,” and closed with new single “That Part.” For area fans, this was familiar territory. For everyone else, well, who is this guy again?

 


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